Manchester United vs Fulham Preview

Manchester United vs Fulham Preview
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After an error-filled desmond draw with the Gunners on Wednesday, Manchester United remain at home as they play against a rejuvenated Fulham side after the appointment of Claudio Ranieri who had to comeback from 1-0 and 2-2 to win 3-2 at home against Southampton, they kept in the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge until Loftus-Cheek sealed the win in the 84th minute. Ranieri then earned a creditable draw with his former team, Leicester City after Aboubakar Kamara's opening goal was cancelled out by James Maddison. Regardless of this, Fulham remain at the bottom of the Premier League on nine points but their -21 GD puts them behind both Burnley and Southampton who are on nine points as well. United are likewise behind two other sides, Bournemouth and Everton, on account of their poor GD of -1 and although a win makes it likely that United will leapfrog at least Bournemouth  (who face Liverpool in the Saturday lunchtime fixture) it seems that United will still be embarrassingly far away from Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in the top five spots and will have to come away with three points tomorrow and most likely remain unbeaten at Anfield next weekend. 

As for team news; Jose Mourinho said that Fred will play when the defence improves as he is first and foremost an attacking central midfielder, this admittedly makes sense as if United are getting opened up as easily, as they were against Arsenal with Herrera and Matic in the heart of the midfield, Fred will not help United tighten up at the back, which is their main problem at the moment. Everything good for Manchester United came through Martial and Lingard against Arsenal and while Lingard is almost guaranteed to start at the weekend, Martial had to come off injured but if he is fit, he ought to start. Smalling, Jones and Shaw are all being assessed ahead of the match and could feature in some part and Ashley Young is likely to be named captain again after returning from suspension for receiving five yellow cards. As for Fulham, this is a simple choice for Ranieri; Fosu-Mensah is ineligible to face his parent club but the London side have no other injuries or suspensions and so are likely to keep an unchanged lineup. 

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Paul Pogba could return to the lineup as a swap for one of the centre backs as United should really adopt a back four against the bottom side of the Premier League and the Frenchman will add extra height that United lacked against the Gunners in the first half. Between the three of Bailly, Rojo and Smalling, Bailly was the best and marshalled Aubameyang excellently during the game and should maintain his place for a second game running. While Smalling's poor marking allowed Mustafi to head in the opener, Rojo's poor pass gifted Lacazette a second half goal but the Argentine was involved in both of United's goals with his freekick saved by Leno and Herrera collected the rebound and squared it to Martial. Likewise, straight from the kickoff, Rojo clipped the ball towards Lukaku and after some messy defending, Lingard equalised through Leno's legs. For that reason, Rojo should start as he was by far the better defender on the night, especially since it was his first game since his injury for Argentina at the World Cup. 

United need to break Fulham down early on and then they have the ability to turn on the class and hammer the Cottagers three, four nil potentially. This could be the case based on how well they started against Arsenal and the United faithful will be hoping for the same, as will the manager; who's job hangs on the balance if United earn anything less than three points on Saturday. 

Predicted Lineup: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Rashford

PREDICTED SCORE: 3-0 to United


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